The other day my kiddos came up with a list of “Things Mom Says.”
Five of their top-ten list were:
- “Just in case . . .” (Whether that’s take a jacket, go to the bathroom, or pack snacks, we will be prepared.)
- “I’ll love you wherever you live.” (In response to times they threatened to run away or can’t wait to move to their own place when they grow up.)
- “Have you done swish and swipe?” (Each day they swish the toilet and swipe the counter to keep the bathroom clean.)
- “I got 70% off a $3 purchase.” (Apparently I am vocal about my love for a good deal.)
- “This is not a restaurant.” (Frankly, sometimes they forget that in real life people do not prepare your food, set your table, clear your table, and package up the leftovers for you. You have to do all of these things yourself.
Yep, they nailed it. (Though I was a little sad that “did you brush your teeth?” didn’t make the cut!)
But in a modern-parenting kind of way, I did have to take a few minutes to overanalyze my kids’ silliness and ask myself two questions:
What are my kids hearing most out of my mouth?
What do I want them to hear?
The more I thought about it, I realized it’s not about the exact words, but it really is the thought that counts.
I want them to hear limits. They need to know that our family has rules and that if they want it to go well for them, following the family’s rules will be a great first strategy.
I want them to hear grace. Not just that they did something wrong and Jesus paid for it on the cross. I want them to know that Jesus lived for them and they get the credit for his holiness. One day after I talked to my son about something, I started saying, “Isn’t it amazing that Jesus never did <insert particular sin> . . .” He replied. “I know, Mom! You’ve told me that.” Well . . . good!
I want them to hear laughter. They are pretty funny people, and I want them to know I like them.
I want them to hear that I believe they are responsible. Just this week I told my kids that I would not be a “Reminding Mom” all summer. The chores are on the board, and they know what they are. And if they don’t do the tasks, I will do them and they will pay me. There will be no nagging.
I want them to hear silence. That means I’m not always talking but that I’m willing to listen. It often means stopping by their bedrooms each night to tuck them in (even as they get older) for some quiet time or taking time on a car ride to ask some open-ended questions.
I want them to hear what God thinks of them. Their heavenly Father’s words are so much more perfect than mine will ever be. So I guess I’ll spend more time saying his words and less time saying mine.
What funny things would your kids list about you? What do you want your kids to hear? I’d love to hear about them.
Linda Buxa is a writer, retreat speaker, and list maker. Her kids also believe she often says, “I woke up at 4:30 this morning and couldn’t go back to sleep.” This explains why she often falls asleep on the couch at 9:00 P.M.